JT made right call
Through the first four weeks of the football season, 17 of the 32 games involving Times News area teams have gone to mercy rule.
Blowouts have been the norm, and mismatches have been abundant.
But last Friday night in Jim Thorpe, the term mismatch reached an entirely new level.
There has been quite a bit of talk about the Olympians 76-0 victory over Kutztown in a game that was stopped at halftime. Yes, Jim Thorpe scored 11 touchdowns in one half of football.
In this week’s Overtime column, we talked to veteran Jim Thorpe coach Mark Rosenberger, who has come under some heat — especially on social media sites — over the score and the assumed lack of mercy the OIympians showed.
In the facts and figures part of Overtime, Rod Heckman has done some research on a number of subjects, including Northern Lehigh touchdown passes, interception returns for touchdowns, and area coaching wins.
There’s very little good that can come from a game like the one Jim Thorpe and Kutztown played Friday night. The winning team doesn’t benefit, the losing team doesn’t benefit, and the fans who paid money to attend the game don’t benefit.
That said, it actually could have been worse. The game being called at halftime saved what could have been a very uncomfortable second half for both teams.
“I played eight years of football (high school and college) and I’ve been coaching for 25 years now, and this is the first time I’ve been part of a game that was stopped like our game on Friday,” Rosenberger said. “But it definitely was the right decision.”
Rosenberger said that he realized early on the game was getting out of hand and tried to minimize the damage.
“I called the referee over late in the first quarter and asked him if we could start the mercy rule right then,” explained Rosenberger. “He said he had to get permission from both coaches to do that, so he went and talked to their coach and he agreed. So we were already playing with a running clock in the first quarter.”
At that point, the Olympians were leading, 42-0.
For those saying Jim Thorpe could have done more to keep the score down, Rosenberger points to the fact that the Olympians ran just 13 offensive plays in the entire game (they scored on seven of them).
“Our starting halfback had just five carries and was out of the game in the first quarter,” said Rosenberger. “We weren’t just using our second string players, we were using third-and fourth-string players most of the second quarter.
“But Kutztown kept throwing the ball when it fell behind, and you can’t tell your kids to let them complete the pass or to stop playing defense. We had three interceptions that went for touchdowns, and we also had a special teams score. Only one of our last five touchdowns came on offense.”
Rosenberger said he talked to officials coming off the field at halftime about ending the game. But Kutztown initially balked at the idea and instead suggested eight-minute quarters with the running clock.
“A few minutes later, the referee came into our locker room and said Kutztown had informed him that they changed their mind and would like to call the game,” Rosenberger said.
As for the heat that his program has been getting on social media for running up the score and not showing any class, Rosenberger said not only isn’t it deserved, but the exact opposite is true.
“I want to commend the Kutztown players, because they kept battling and playing hard the entire first half despite the score,” said Rosenberger. “But I’m also extremely proud of my players. Not only for their effort on the field, but more importantly for the integrity they played with and the respect they showed Kutztown.”
Sometime scores can be deceiving. A game that appears to be tightly contested based on the final score, could have actually been a one-sided game that featured a few late scores by reserves that made it look it respectable.
In that same regard, seeing a 76-0 score might lead people to believe that one team ran it up on the other. But a look at the facts surrounding this game tells a different story.
From running just 13 offensive plays in the game, to all the late defensive scores, to Rosenberger being the one to initiate the early running clock and the halftime stoppage, it appears that Jim Thorpe did its best to try and not to embarrass Kutztown.
“The last thing we would ever want to do is humiliate another team,” said Rosenberger. “It’s a tough situation for all involved, but I thought our players and our coaches were extremely classy in how they conducted themselves.”
MILESTONE WIN ... Lehighton’s 40-6 victory over Marian last Friday was a milestone win for head coach Tom McCarroll, who reached 50 for his career.
McCarroll is the fifth current head coach to reach 50 wins with their respective team. Leading the way is Jim Thorpe’s Mark Rosenberger with 141, followed by Northern Lehigh’s Joe Tout (83), Tamaqua’s Sam Bonner (79) and Northwestern’s Josh Snyder (53).
Snyder has the highest winning percentage at .624, while Tout will be coaching in his 150th game on Friday.
RECORD RECEIVER ... Northwestern’s Justin Holmes earned the Times News Player of the Week award for his performance against Wilson Saturday. The sophomore caught eight passes for 217 yards, breaking the school record for receiving yards in a game.
Over the past 30 years, Holmes is just the seventh area player to reach 200 receiving yards in a contest. The others include Panther Valley’s Fenton Black (252 on 11/14/92), Jim Thorpe’s Don Evans (250 on 9/23/00), Lehighton’s Chris Green (245 on 11/23/91), Panther Valley’s Tom Rosahac (237 on 9/8/89), Marian’s Aaron DeAngelo (229 on 9/11/15) and Pleasant Valley’s Kevin Cruz (210 on 11/1/13).
Prior to Saturday’s game, Holmes had three career varsity catches for 75 yards.
BULLDOGS GO DEEP ... Northern Lehigh earned a 14-8 victory over Pen Argyl on Saturday thanks inpart to a pair of long touchdown passes.
Zach Moyer connected with Mike Repsher for a 53-yard score, and also hit Trevor Amorim with an 80-yard TD toss.
The last time the Bulldogs threw for a pair of touchdowns longer than 40 yards in the same game was Oct. 29, 2010 (95 games ago) when Dylan Hofmann tossed a 64-yard score to Cody Remaley and a 41-yard TD to Jake Kern during a 49-7 victory over Catasauqua.
THIRTY-SOMETHING ... Tamaqua’s Nate Boyle had four touchdowns and kicked six extra points in last Friday’s 50-16 victory over Panther Valley.
The 30 points by the senior marked the fourth time in his career that he has scored 30-or-more points in a game.
Over the last 25 years, only one other player has scored at least 30 points in four different games. That would be Northern Lehigh’s Cody Remaley, who did it once in 2009 and three times in 2010.
PICK-SIX EXPLOSION ... Jim Thorpe intercepted four passes against Kutztown last Friday, returning three of them for touchdowns.
Over the last 25 years, the Olympians had intercepted four passes in a game 10 different times.
But the three pick-sixes are another story. Since 1993, this marked the eighth time an area team has had multiple interception returns for touchdowns in the same game. However, this marked the first time a team had three. Teams that have had two returns for scores include Marian (2017, twice), Northern Lehigh (2004, 1996), Lehighton (2015), Northwestern (2014) and Palmerton (2014).
During that time frame, the most interception returns for touchdowns by one team in a season is five. That mark is shared by Northwestern (2014) and Lehighton (2015).